‘Midnight Texas’ Season 1, Episodes 5-6: Unearthing the Answers

Much to my surprise, “Midnight Texas” (aka “True Blood”-lite) has been answering questions left and right, basically solving two of the show’s biggest overarching mysteries already, and we’re barely halfway through the first season. Of course, it wouldn’t amount to a hill of corpses if those answers didn’t deliver, but shockingly enough, they did. Not too shabby, that.

In Episode 5, “Unearthed,” our main character Manfred (François Arnaud), finally saw his shady past catch up to him, as we found out what he was really running from- and it wasn’t just someone he owed money to, either. The simple fact is, heroes without flaws can be awfully boring, and though we already knew Manfred wasn’t above conning a mark with false accounts of their loved ones’ wishes from the afterlife, we also knew that he was the real deal- a bona fide medium.

As such, it didn’t seem like being on the lam from what seemed like a typical loan shark type was all that big of a deal, and as such, it made the character kind of bland. Now, we know that was more of an acting choice on Arnaud’s part, as the reason he’s so brooding is actually pretty nasty, indeed.

It seems that Arnaud and his grandmother not only conned the unrelenting Hightower (“True Blood”-vet Christopher Heyerdahl) out of a considerable amount of cash, but that he left his daughter, Violet (Sarah Minnich, “Better Call Saul”) stranded at the altar- and she allegedly subsequently killed herself. Pretty good reasons for a father to pursue someone to the ends of the earth, no?

Needless to say, this revelation didn’t go over too well with Arnaud’s current love interest, Creek (Sarah Ramos), who, by this point, had finally stood up to her overbearing father and opted to move in with her boyfriend, whether dad liked it or not. Be that as it may, she didn’t want to see him dead, so naturally she enlisted the help of the town, via paid assassin Olivia (Arielle Kebbel).

After Manfred pawns some stuff, he sets up a meet to pay Hightower what he owes him, in hopes of getting him off of his back, so he can stop running and stay put in Midnight and move on with his life with Creek, if she’ll have him. But when he arrives at the meet place, an old abandoned factory, he finds Violet’s corpse waiting for him and realizes all too late that Hightower could care less about the money- he wants vengeance.

Even worse, Hightower was willing to go to lengths to get it- as in cutting out his own eye to obtain dark magic to take out Manfred with. We discover that the marriage was somewhat arranged, with the ultimate goal being to consolidate Manfred’s powerful family line with Hightower’s, therefore also “wedding” the two families’ bloodlines and combining their powers into one unstoppable force to be reckoned with.

So, not only did Manfred cost him his daughter, and a considerable sum of money, but he also didn’t follow through on delivering Hightower the power he promised- but that didn’t stop Hightower from obtaining some of his own through dark magic. Not a great development for Manfred, needless to say.

With the help of Olivia, the two manage to corral Hightower to try and reason with him, pointing out that Xylda (Joanne Camp) had cancer, and that the con was a last-ditch effort to come up with the money to pay for her treatments, and even then, she ultimately died. Hightower tells him there’s only one thing he wants from him- to use him to talk to his daughter, so he can get some semblance of peace- not that it will stop him from trying to kill Manfred, anyway, but still.

Manfred agrees, but then things get worse when we discover that Violent, in fact, didn’t kill herself over Manfred, per se, and actually hates her father, who was the real reason for her untimely demise. Basically, she resented the fact that he used her to gain more power, getting her caught in the middle of his machinations in the process.

As one might guess, this does not go over too well with Hightower, but rather than take it out on Manfred, he takes it out on himself instead, and also takes his own life, via a bunch of shattered glass from a nearby window, in an admittedly cool effect, despite the circumstances.

Creek overhears a lot of this, and in the end, essentially forgives Manfred, though not without some reservations, understandably, given what he did. However, to his credit, Manfred doubles down on Midnight, Texas and promises Creek he’s not going anywhere anymore, which helps.

Meanwhile, the romance between Bobo (Dylan Bruce) and Fiji (Parisa Fitz-Henley) hit a major bump in the road when the former’s past came back to haunt him via Lowry (Evan Jones, “Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2”), the late Aubrey’s husband, who was still under the impression that Bobo had killed his wife. This, of course, wasn’t true, but it also proved that Lowry himself didn’t do it, as we- and Bobo, for that matter- had previously assumed.

Even worse, we discovered that Bobo was a former member of the Sons of Lucifer, which ostensibly made him a former white supremacist in the process, and complicit in some of the gang’s more dubious actions in the past- or so it would seem. Obviously, it didn’t take, but not the greatest news to find out about your BF if you’re a woman of color, needless to say.

To make matters worse, Bobo’s father was a leader of the Sons, and had amassed a fortune in weapons and gold and the like, which Bobo had stolen when he left the gang. Intent on avenging his murdered wife and getting back what Bobo stole from them, Lowry kidnaps Fiji and holds her hostage for said cache of weapons. He’s also smart enough to drug her and lock her up in an underground storage unit, lest she attempt to use her witchy powers on him.

With the amount of air in said storage unit limited, the clock is ticking for Bobo to deliver the goods. However, no fool he, Bobo brings along some back-up in the form of Lem (Peter Mensah), which is more than I can say for Manfred, who was just lucky Creek did the same for him without his knowing or his story might have ended differently. Lem is all too happy to help, given that the Sons almost burnt down the place he lived, with him and Olivia in it- well that, and you know, white supremacists and all.

Naturally, Lowry double-crosses Bobo and the gang beats him down and tosses him into the storage unit along with Fiji. She is still weak, but able to conjure up an air bubble to buy them some time, in hopes that Lem will come to their rescue, which, of course, he does. Lem takes out most of the gang in short order, along with their weaponry, lest some of them escape with it.

Lem frees Bobo and Fiji and Bobo and Lowry fight to the death, with Bobo naturally emerging victorious. However, he does discover that Lowry wasn’t responsible for Aubrey’s murder, as he had assumed- as Manfred proved in a previous episode, Aubrey genuinely loved him, but though upset by her betrayal, Lowry didn’t kill her over it- he just wanted the weapons and gold, really. This, of course, means Aubrey’s killer is still out there.

Surprisingly, we don’t have to wait very long to find out the real culprit, as it is revealed in the very next episode, “Blinded by the Light.” Another of the show’s central mysteries of sorts is what the hell is going on with Creek’s family, or at least her father (Bob Jesser, “Get Shorty”).

Why does he have such a big chip on his shoulder about Manfred? Is he hiding something? Does his family have some sort of supernatural lineage that he’s afraid of manifesting itself in his daughter and that’s why he’s so overprotective? Might he actually be looking out for Manfred, rather than his daughter, at least in a sense?

As it turns out, there was indeed a reason he came to Midnight, and like a lot of the denizens of the town, he definitely has something to hide. Only in his case, it’s not a what, but a who- and it isn’t Creek that’s the problem. Turns out that it’s actually because of his son Connor (John Paul Howard, “Hell or Highwater”), who is, of all things, a budding serial killer! Did NOT see that coming.

It seems that his father picked up on all the signs at an early age- torturing and killing small animals, that sort of thing- and rather than get his son some psychiatric help or have him locked up, he opted to take him to a town where he seemingly wouldn’t be able to do much harm, given that most everyone there has supernatural powers of some sort. Not sure how he found out about Midnight in the first place, but okay.

Despite this, Connor managed to find people in the general vicinity that weren’t, in fact, blessed- or cursed- with abilities, and were typically young females. We see one of them early on in the show, being terrorized by him, though we don’t know it’s Connor at the time. In addition, we later discover that he was, in fact, the one who killed Aubrey, Bobo’s fiancée.

At first, Manfred thinks it might be the father, and the group, without Creek’s knowledge, hold him hostage, tying him down and questioning him about his supposed crimes, which are starting to bring the heat down on the town, as the latest missing girl is related to a judge in a nearby town, and she’s none too happy about what she sees as something someone in Midnight did to her little girl.

Fortunately, the girl, Aerin (Barbie Robertson, “Preacher”) turns up, having escaped her tormentor, who she readily identifies as Connor. Unfortunately, Creek, after having heard the news of her father’s potential complicity in the murders, is off with Connor, taking a time-out from all the drama. Naturally, no sooner does she realize that her little brother is the actual killer that she finds herself in jeopardy of losing her own life, family relationship be damned.

Meanwhile, Joe Strong (Jason Lewis), who has asked the Reverend (Yul Vazquez) to stay mum on what he told him about the “veil of evil” lifting on the town, thus both drawing evil to it and bringing it out of others already there- such as the Reverend himself, who attacked and killed a cop a few episodes back- is taken aback when the Rev finally comes clean about what he knows.

Though we find out there is definitely more to the story- by using his powers to fly off and save Creek from potential death at the hands of her crazed brother, he is attracting the evil to himself- there is still much we don’t know. For instance, he calls up Chuy (Bernardo Saracino) to warn him to stay away, as he says he’s in even more danger than Joe himself is. But why?

If Joe’s an angel, what in the world is Chuy? Perhaps a demon himself, making their romance the likely cause for Joe’s fallen angel status. It would also explain why Joe wants him to stay away- if the evil in town is bad for him in the sense that it will lead Joe to be hunted down, then it could be even worse for Chuy, as it could make his demonic tendencies rise to the top and be big trouble for everyone, least of all Joe.

Ultimately, Joe saves Creek, anyway, even as he knows it will expose him to the others, because he knows he could never live with himself if he let an innocent die when he could have done something to save her. Shortly thereafter, Lem finishes Connor off, so that he can’t hurt any more women in the future. Naturally, Creek is horrified that her father covered up God knows how many murders- he knew and never said a thing. That doesn’t bode well for any future relationship between the two.

It does, however explain why he was so wary of Manfred- he was worried one of Connor’s victims might speak to him and expose Connor for the monster he was, which is basically what happened, in a sense, as Connor kept “trophies,” as it were, which helped Manfred put the pieces together to figure out what was really going on. (He also found the mask Connor wore, to make himself look like a member of the Sons of Lucifer, which is what threw Manfred off when he was initially helping the cops.)

It’s also worth a mention that the floorboard demon seems particularly attracted to Fiji, continuing to terrorize her, even after she seemed to get rid of it. It apparently isn’t too fond of armadillos, either. My guess would be that it senses her power, and knows that if it could possess her, it would have access to even more itself, which wouldn’t be good. Given the speed with which things are happening on the show thus far, it shouldn’t be long before that comes to pass.

I must say, speaking of that, I was legitimately surprised to get so many answers this soon on the show. I completely expected them to drag things out to the end, and potentially not even answer much in the way of questions even then. Gotta keep those viewers tuning in, right? Yet, in doing precisely that, the show actually did itself a solid, in that it showed the writers knew what they were doing all along, and had a long-term plan for all these disparate storylines.

Further, and perhaps more importantly, it also solidified the main cast as characters and helped make them feel more real and less archetypes, i.e. the medium, the witch, the vampire, etc. In addition, all the various relationships on the show feel more earned now, especially in terms of Creek and Manfred. (I was already fairly onboard with Lem and Olivia from the jump.)

What’s more, it also clears the way for the biggest overarching plotline to take center stage- the whole “lifting of the veil of evil” thing. The idea, much like the Hellmouth on “Buffy,” lends itself to lots of possibilities, as it could potentially draw any number of creatures and evil to the town, as well as turn formerly good characters bad.

I also like that the show has avoided following any obvious patterns. By putting forth a wide variety of storylines and characters alike, it allowed for different approaches to the different stories, instead of, say, the typical “monster-of-the-week” thing, a la “The X-Files.” Not that I mind such things, but it certainly helped, in terms of keeping one guessing, to have a lot of different things going on at once.

Note also that the show was smart enough not to overextend itself and drag things out until they became convoluted, as some shows have done in the past, including the aforementioned “True Blood,” from the same writer as this show. That shows that “Midnight Texas” might have learned a thing or two from that show’s mistakes and is letting that inform things moving forward.

And, as I mentioned, it helped sell the characters in a way that helps the viewers connect to them better. Before these two episodes, I had characters I liked, but it arguably had more to do with the actors than the roles themselves. Now that they have all been given some concrete, and more importantly, flawed backgrounds, they no longer seem like cardboard cut-outs of characters. They instead, feel real, lived-in.

As such, I’m not ashamed to admit I may have judged some of the actors, as well as the show itself, a little unfairly. I suppose one can chalk it up to the knee-jerk reaction us critics who have to review things on the fly have to contend with on a regular basis. It isn’t easy to be comprehensive in these reviews, as time is a factor, and sometimes that is unfair to the shows themselves.

Fortunately, in reviewing an entire season, if a show gets better as it goes along, it gives us, the viewers and reviewers, a chance to better assess whether said shows have grown in a positive, or negative way. I’m happy to say this is one of those cases where the growth was a positive one. “Midnight Texas” continues to evolve, and in a good way. That’s good news for those of us who dig the show.

What did you think of the latest episodes of “Midnight Texas”? Did you also like the new developments? Did it bring you closer to understanding the characters and their respective motivations? Which of them have grown on you the most? Do you feel the show is moving too fast, or is the rate its answering questions just right? Any predictions for the future? Sound off down below, and see you in a few weeks!